The "Off" Side of the Lightswitch
Watching the condensation slip down the side of the martini glass was enough to make me laugh. Either I’d been staring too long it or had finally managed to clear enough of the vodka out of the fluted glass that I could find something as simple as sweat humorous. “It must be latter rather than the former” I said out loud to myself in an empty room. The tell was that I found the glass to not only be humorous but to be slightly erotic in shape as well. Clearly, the vodka had hit the mark.
The helpers had decided to take Bethany out for a ride now that her tantrum was over. “Roll her while she’s happy”, is the motto around here. Just minutes before she was a furious and confusing mass of anger. Now she was laughing and carrying on in a delightful manner. Delightful if you’re a prizefighter anyway. They found her socks and shoes, stuffed them on her rather square, stubby feet and headed out the door.
I sat in the silence for a moment, soaking up the freedom that I find by something as simple as her leaving a room. She can suffocate you with her presence at times, and this was one of those times. As they left, her happy giggle reminded of the words the psychiatrist had left my wife with that afternoon; her laugh and nightly antics were indeed and officially “manic”. Like, that was a big relief to me?
Nearly every night for the last two months she’s been up till one, two, or three in the morning; crashing around her room like a rock star; screaming, laughing, punching out windows. In her mind, nothing brings more delight that crapping in her diaper and then body slamming the door till someone comes for assistance.
There, on the floor with her 16-year-old feet on my head and her hind end way up in the air while my hands clean the unpleasantness, she laughs. Flat on her back, the punch line to this joke comes to life: “I crap, you clean, I keep my feet up by putting them on your head.” Funny, right?
She laughs, and as I clean her up I find my anger softening. Her laugh is so infectious that I can’t help but laugh at myself for thinking of the sight that this must offer. With all that nightly challenge, the doctor’s official words, declaring her actions as “maniacal laughter” seems as unsatisfying as the words “The End” when movie is obviously done. Her laugh makes her belly jiggle and makes it nearly impossible to affix evenly the tape straps that secure the new diaper. Even after all these years, I still try to put the diaper on evenly with the straps positioned as if she were wearing a gravity suit. It is in fact, the only semblance of dignity that remains in this whole process.
As I sit there alone, thinking about all this and laughing at a sweating and empty glass; I wonder if I’ve in fact lost it. Has she succeeded in sucking me into her world of manic and then depressive behavior? Both Sherry and I now follow the same emotional paths; we like Bethany go from joyful laughter to deep sorrow with the transitioning happening like the flicking of a switch. On, off. On, off…
While she’s gone, I amble off to mix another glass, this time making sure to add extra ice. More ice means more sweat to laugh at, and since it’ll likely be another long night of the “off” side of the switch, I figure a bit of my own maniacal laughter supporting the "On" side of the light switch is just what the doctor would order.